Recreational marijuana and medical marijuana are legally available in the state of Washington, and it is legal for an individual 21 years or older to possess and privately consume cannabis in Washington; however, while it’s possible for you to legally smoke marijuana and consume cannabis, driving while under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. A marijuana DUI in Washington is just as severe as drinking and driving.
Every DUI comes with legal and financial consequences. Continue reading and learn about:
- DUI and Cannabis Laws in Washington
- Risks and Consequences of a Marijuana DUI
- Cannabis DUI field tests in Washington
- How to Avoid a Cannabis DUI
- DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Leyba
DUIs for Cannabis in Washington
Recreational marijuana usage for people 21 years of age or older was legalized in Washington State in 2013. While this means fewer arrests for cannabis possession, it also means police are on the lookout for people driving under the influence of marijuana.
In the state of Washington, a marijuana DUI arrest can be made on several grounds. If an officer pulls over a vehicle that was not driving safely, and the officer smells marijuana, they can charge the driver with a DUI. While blood tests for driving under the influence of cannabis do exist, they are not a reliable way to prove intoxication. Most marijuana DUI charges are based on a driver’s and/or passenger’s possession of marijuana and/or exhibiting signs of intoxication.
Marijuana DUI Risks
If you’re charged and/or convicted of a marijuana-related DUI in Washington state, the consequences may include:
- Suspension of your driver’s license.
- Loss of driving privileges in Washington State.
- Fines between $350 – $1000 (depending on arrest record.)
- 24 hours – 1 year in jail.
- House arrest.
- Court-mandated rehab, sobriety and/or drug tests.
Marijuana DUI Field Tests
While the risk for a marijuana DUI may be higher than ever before, marijuana DUI field tests are not reliable.
In a recent study conducted by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, research director Staci Hoff admits the science used for DUI field tests is “arbitrary.” The blood tests used to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana do not reflect how recently cannabis was consumed. In other words, you could have smoked marijuana weeks ago and still test positive for THC during a marijuana blood test.
When arresting a suspected marijuana user for driving under the influence, police officers must rely upon field sobriety tests. During a suspected DUI traffic stop, officers look for obvious signs of impairment and possession of marijuana or other illicit substance.
If you’ve been arrested for a cannabis-related DUI in Washington, and your case hinges on the results of a field sobriety test or marijuana blood test, let your DUI defense attorney know. A good DUI lawyer will contest your cannabis blood test or marijuana DUI test.
How to Avoid a DUI for Cannabis
If you don’t want to get arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis in Washington state, we recommend the following:
- Don’t Drive After You Consume Cannabis. Treat marijuana the same way you do alcohol. You shouldn’t go to the bar, get drunk and then try to drive home. Remember, in the eyes of the law, “driving buzzed” is the same as driving under the influence. Never drive after you’ve consumed marijuana or while consuming cannabis.
- Transport Cannabis Responsibly. It is legal to purchase recreational marijuana and medical marijuana in Washington state. However, you can be arrested for the suspicion of a marijuana DUI if you’re driving with marijuana present in your vehicle. Likewise, if your car smells like marijuana or an officer suspects you’re exhibiting signs of being high and driving, you can be charged with a DUI. When driving with cannabis, store it in a hermetically sealed container in your trunk or locked glove box.
- Don’t Consume Marijuana in Public. You don’t need to be the one driving to face a marijuana DUI or similar charge. It’s illegal to smoke weed or otherwise consume cannabis in public. If you choose to use marijuana, only do so in a safe, private environment.
Matthew Leyba – Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for a marijuana DUI in Washington, you need a criminal defense attorney that will fight for you.
Matthew Leyba, head lawyer and founder of our law firm, oversees all our criminal defense cases. He lends his expert strategy and personal attention to all our DUI defenses. At Leyba Defense, we specialize in reducing or completely dismissing DUI charges against our clients.
No matter what criminal charges you’re up against, we guarantee to give you the best criminal defense possible. We won’t rest until you are completely satisfied. You can contest your marijuana DUI arrest, fight to keep your license, and stay out of jail. Contact Matthew Leyba and Leyba PLCC and get your defense ready today!